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UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li Receives Prestigious 2023 Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Outstanding Library Leadership Award

Wed, July 5, 2023 4:20 PM

UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li Receives Prestigious 2023 Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Outstanding Library Leadership Award

Headshot of Haipeng Li wearing a dark gray suite, white dress shirt, blue tie, he is wearing glasses

July 5, 2023

UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li was recently recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) with the organization’s 2023 Outstanding Library Leadership Award. CALA’s Award Committee conferred this honor based on Haipeng’s “exceptional leadership qualities, visionary mindset, and the ability to inspire and guide others.”

Throughout his career, Haipeng has been an advocate for Chinese American Librarians Association through many initiatives and activities he has been leading or engaged in. Over 25 years ago, Haipeng joined CALA at the recommendation of a colleague he met during his participation in the Leadership and Career Development Program sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Established in 1973, and one of the American Libraries Association (ALA) affiliates, CALA offered opportunities to network, develop leadership skills, and participate in professional development. CALA was also a forum to support and advocate for Chinese-American librarians in North America, some of whom faced bias and prejudice at their own institutions. CALA provided a place to discuss and address these workplace concerns.

As a CALA life member, Haipeng chaired various committees before becoming the Association’s President in 2006 followed by a five-year term as Executive Director and Board member. During his presidency, he spearheaded the CALA 21st Century Librarian Seminar Series, along with other CALA leaders. This program promoted partnerships and collaboration between librarians in China, later to include Hong Kong and Taiwan, with those in the United States and Canada. A series of trips were made by CALA and ALA members to partner institutions in China where hands-on training sessions and public forums were offered on topics related to librarianship. In one single year, there were over 1,000 participants in China, and CALA membership grew 20% during a time when other library organizations in ALA were losing members during an economic downturn.  

Strong U.S./China relations at the time encouraged cultural exchange. Visits of Chinese and U.S. delegations to each other’s countries resulted in the signing of an MOU by the Minister of Culture from China and the Head of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in a formal ceremony at the Library of Congress. Three-year grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) supported this initiative and was known as the Think Globally, Act Globally project.

The award calls attention to Haipeng’s EDI work in CALA though his commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion which started at Oberlin where he initiated and chaired a diversity committee. The committee secured an IMLS grant to support a DEI internship focused on recruiting students from diverse backgrounds into librarianship. Oberlin was one of the first liberal arts college libraries to launch that type of internship program and was recognized for this work by the Association for College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Further funding came from the Mellon Foundation to extend this initiative to additional liberal arts colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Beyond CALA, Haipeng has also co-chaired the steering committee (2012) for the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color conference. The conference held every four years is an important professional home for many librarians of color.

This is not the first time that Haipeng Li has won a CALA’s prestigious award. This latest award can be attributed to his sustained vision and extensive contributions to CALA. He is quick to note that this award is not only the result of individual effort but also has involved the dedication of talented colleagues and teamwork to envision and implement these impactful initiatives.


*Link to Original PDF press release outstanding_library_leadership_-_haipeng_li_58_.pdf